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AU Registered Medical Device
12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

TENS Therapy Machine: How It Works, Benefits, & Treatable Conditions

A small and long wing iTENS, refill gel pads, and necessary information

A Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation or TENS therapy machine unit is a medical device designed to provide pain relief. It works by sending electrical impulses through electrode pads placed on the skin. Accordingly, this electrical stimulation blocks pain signals and triggers endorphin release. TENS treatment also presents numerous benefits. It is natural, customisable, adjunctive, and cost-effective. Furthermore, TENS is an effective pain relief for various conditions, including chronic and acute pain conditions.

Living with pain can be debilitating, affecting daily activities and the overall quality of life. Traditionally, individuals use painkilling medications. However, they may come with unwanted adverse effects. Meanwhile, TENS therapy is gaining popularity as a safe and effective method of pain relief. Pain clinics and medical professionals often recommend TENS as a pain treatment. This article will present how the TENS therapy electronic device works, its benefits, and the treatable types of pain.

How a TENS Therapy Machine Works

When the TENS therapy machine is activated, it delivers electrical currents through the skin to the nerves underneath. Accordingly, this activity provides analgesia in various ways. Foremost, TENS devices stimulate the production of endorphins. These are the natural pain relievers of the body. Endorphins are chemicals in the body that interact with opioid receptors to produce a feeling of well-being.

Secondly, the pain gate mechanism. According to this, a metaphorical “gate” in the spinal cord controls the flow of pain signals to the brain. The electrical pulses are believed to interfere with these pain messages. It effectively closes the “gate” and prevents the pain signals from reaching the brain. As a result of this process, TENS helps in reducing the sensation of discomfort.

In addition, TENS treatment contributes to enhanced blood circulation. The electrical impulses encourage the dilation of blood vessels, improving blood flow. Increased circulation aids in the healing process by ensuring the efficient delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the body tissues. It also removes waste products. Nevertheless, it can lead to faster recovery, reduced inflammation, and alleviation of discomfort.

Frequencies and Intensities

  • Frequencies: Refers to the rate at which electrical pulses are delivered, measured in Hertz (Hz). Typically, TENS employs low (1 to 10 Hz) and high (50 to 120 Hz) frequencies. Low-frequency settings trigger the body to produce endorphins. It is beneficial for managing chronic conditions. Conversely, high-frequency settings work on the principle of the Pain Gate Theory. It is valuable for addressing acute conditions.
  • Intensities: Refers to the strength of electrical pulses, measured in Milliamperes (mA). It is adjustable and is set according to the tolerance of the individual and the level of pain relief needed. The proper intensity should feel solid but comfortable.

A woman using a lightweight and wireless TENS on her lower back and near the elbow

Benefits of Using a TENS Therapy Machine

A TENS therapy machine offers a range of benefits. Firstly, TENS treatment is a non-invasive, natural pain relief. It does not require surgical procedures, injections, and analgesic medications. Secondly, TENS therapy presents targeted relief. Individuals can place the adhesive electrodes directly or near the treatment area. It ensures that relief is direct and tailored to the specific location of discomfort.

Thirdly, users can adjust the settings on a TENS device. They can customise the pulse rate, pulse amplitudes, and pulse duration. It allows individuals to fine-tune their therapy. Fourthly, a TENS unit is a one-time investment that can be used repeatedly. It is a cost-effective solution compared to the ongoing expenses of painkilling medications or frequent visits to a healthcare provider.

Furthermore, TENS serves as an adjunctive treatment. It can be used alongside other treatment modalities like physical therapy and exercise. The TENS machines are also compact and lightweight. It makes them easy to carry and use anywhere. Additionally, TENS treatment exhibits no to minimal side effects. This makes it an appealing option for many individuals.

Potential Side Effects

The application of electrode pads can sometimes lead to skin irritation. It can manifest as redness or itching. To mitigate this, cleaning the skin before application and avoiding prolonged use is advisable. Additionally, the electrical stimulation can result in involuntary muscle twitching. While generally harmless, they can be uncomfortable. Adjusting the intensity settings of the device can help manage this effect.

Although less common, some individuals may experience allergic reactions. Symptoms can include rashes and increased irritation. These allergic responses are typically due to sensitivity to materials used in the pads. Opting for hypoallergenic pads can reduce this side effect.

A person in a corporate attire touching their lower back with both hands due to pain

Types of Pain Treatable with a TENS Therapy Machine

A TENS therapy machine is a versatile tool capable of addressing various types of pain. TENS devices help manage acute pain conditions. It occurs for a short term and is often a direct result of injuries, surgeries, menstrual cramps, and labour pain. Accordingly, TENS can address persistent chronic pain conditions. It is beneficial for long-term conditions such as arthritis and backaches.

Moreover, TENS treatment can target neuropathic pain. It stems from nerve damage and is often described as shooting or burning. TENS is a promising solution for those suffering from sciatica or diabetic neuropathy. Furthermore, TENS units can aid musculoskeletal pain. It encompasses pain in the bones, ligaments, and tendons. It may include joint pain, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis.

TENS therapy can also treat muscular pain. It is often a result of overuse, injury, or strain. TENS can stimulate the muscles, promoting relaxation and healing by enhancing blood flow. Overall, TENS stands out for its non-pharmaceutical approach to pain management across these various categories. It also offers a valuable complement to traditional pain relief methods.

Safety Guidelines

Foremost, consulting a healthcare professional is essential before using a TENS device. It is particularly vital for individuals with underlying medical conditions. Before every use, inspect the TENS machine for any damage. Accordingly, do not place the electrodes on the head, eyes, mouth, throat, chest, bony regions, spinal cord, or broken skin.

Additionally, start with the lowest settings and gradually increase it to a comfortable level. It is essential to avoid settings that cause discomfort. Moreover, TENS therapy sessions should typically last between 15 to 30 minutes. Users should not operate a TENS unit while driving or using heavy machinery.


Overall, TENS therapy machines are a popular and effective way to manage discomfort. It is a battery-powered device that delivers electrical currents to the body. It streams them via electrodes attached to the skin. Consequently, these pulses work by interrupting the transmission of pain signals, triggering the release of endorphins, and enhancing blood flow. The TENS device can also send impulses at varying frequencies and intensities. Frequencies can be low or high, while intensities should be at a comfortable level.

Furthermore, TENS therapy presents a range of benefits. It is natural, adjustable, cost-effective, adjunctive, and can provide targeted relief. TENS units are also portable and easy to use. Moreover, TENS can treat a wide range of conditions. It can address injuries, cramps, arthritis, sciatica, rheumatoid arthritis, and muscular discomfort. However, recognising the potential side effects of TENS and knowing the safety guidelines is crucial. These precautions ensure optimal TENS therapy experience.

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